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Joseph Ellis Education. (2013) 'Revolutionary Summer The Birth of American Independence.'

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Washington 26, Jefferson 11, Adams 9, New York 9, Virginia 9, Us 8, Wilkesboro 4, Vernon 4, Pennsylvania 4, Massachusetts 4, Manhattan 4, New England 4, John Adams 3, United States 3, Marshall 3, Thomas Jefferson 3, Long Island 3, Philadelphia 3, Britain 3, New Jersey 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Joseph Ellis  Education.  (2013)  
   'Revolutionary Summer The Birth of American Independence.'  

    August 11, 2013
    11:00 - 12:01pm EDT  

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>> that all happened tonight on c-span2's booktv. >> next on booktv, pulitzer prize-winning history joseph ellis recounts the beginnings of the revolutionary war. he examines the inner workings of the continental congress and continental army and britain's political and military reaction to the start of the war. this is about one hour. >> thank you for that gracious introduction. and thank you all for making out on a not so pleasant evening. weatherwise at least. i was supposed to be her a couple years ago and i think i had a hip operation and it knocked me out, and i always regretted that i missed it so i'm back here to sort of make
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up. i want to talk about a book i've just written. and so this is a thinly disguised propaganda campaign -- [laughter] to get you to purchase this undoubtedly magisterial book called "revolutionary summer." by the don't feel totally comfortable just talking my own wares. so that will be the last time we actually mention the book or say, except to say it's great beach reading. [laughter] really short and all the royalties for this book will go directly to the alexander alice scholarship fund, he is my youngest son still -- [laughter] i'm trying to do a very familiar story, a story that virtually every generation of historians has told before, and each generation has added a new interpretive gloss. it's sort of like another layer
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of wallpaper across the wall. and in some sense one of my path was to try to strip away the wallpaper and get back to the wall itself. and so some of the things i do say that i think are fresh, are fresh because they are not really new. they are just so old they have been forgotten. but given the fact this is a story that's also the subject of one of the more performed place in the american theatrical repertoire, the plague 1776, i better have something new to say. i think i do, but that is very much up to you. want to talk for 35-40 minutes. i don't want to read to you. i want to talk to you. is that okay? [applause] i've got some notes. i thought about what i want to
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say but i don't want to bore you but if i was just going to read to you i would pass out and we would talk about it later. i began this project with a presumption end with a question. the presumption was this, that no event in american history which looks at the inevitable in retrospect was as improbable and problematic at the time. and part of my task was to recover for the modern reader a sense of crisis and confusion and improvisation that was occurring in the late spring and summer of 1776. i have trouble because i did my letters like 18, 1713 instead of 2013. [laughter] so again, it is not easy to
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write clearly and lucidly about confusion. but that was one of the things i wanted to be able to do, recover that mentality, if you will. and i think you'll see a little bit of what i'm talking about fairly shortly. the question i had, i called the wilkesboro question, after wilkesboro pennsylvania. is anybody here from wilkesboro? no kidding? unbelievable. unbelievable. there was nobody from wilkesboro in san francisco last week, i can tell you right now. [laughter] the population of contemporary wilkesboro is slightly larger than the population of virginia was in 1776. now, if we go out there to
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wilkes barre now, do you think we could find george washington, thomas jefferson, james madison, george mason, john marshall and patrick henry? we ain't going to find them. now, at some theoretical level they are there. that is, human beings with the capacity for leadership are there, but the situation doesn't permit that group to rise to the surface. and so the question is, why did that situation exist in 1776? now, there is another answer to
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this, which is that great leadership only emerges during times of great crisis. and this makes eminent sense, the pressure that the crisis creates. and yet we can all think of examples where there's a great crisis and there's no leadership. like now. [laughter] [applause] >> or the coming of your -- world war i in europe. so what was special, you can't say there was something special in the water back there then. you can't say god looked down upon the american college and bless them. supernatural explanations are not admitted. even if you're an evangelical you're not allowed to use those in a historical conversation.
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i don't know whether i have a good answer to this, but some of the is in the book in an explicit way but i will give you an anecdotal version of a partial answer to the question. it relates to george washington. in may 1775, george washington puts on his military uniform and decides to go to the second continental congress. he's the only one that's going to be wearing a military uniform. he's making a statement. he thinks the war has already begun. and it has, we know, in retrospect. lexington and concord have happened in april. bunker hill is going to happen in june, which is actually one of the bloodiest battles in the war, but i know that chronology
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is the last refuge of the feebleminded, but it is the only refuge for historians. noticed this, it's underreported, under discussed in history texts. the war starts 15 months before independence is declared. it's going to cause, it's going to shake things in this explanation is that i'm going to offer you. anyway, washington is getting ready to leave mount vernon and he says to his -- what is that? >> [inaudible] >> flood warning, right. [laughter] biblical here. [laughter] somebody gave me that line. thank you, sir. washington said he was manager of mount vernon, who was a second cousin, when the british,
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potomac to burn mount vernon, get out my books and martha, presumably not in that order -- [laughter] >> he presumed he was going to lose everything. when jefferson eventually gets around to writing those famous words, our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor, they sounded pretty rhetorical. hey, they were for real. it was everything. you have to be willing to do that. and he was willing. later, in 1779, a british frigate comes up to potomac and lund washington says i'm going to send out a skiff with fruit and presence to appease the
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british captain. so we does not and the british captain says, hey, man, i'm just fishing for airing. i have no evil intention figures even know this is mount vernon. so lund washington sends a report of this to george, sort of proud that he defended the homestead. and washington writes back and says, i am extremely distressed at what you have told me. you have sullied my honor. if it happens again, let them burn it to the ground. these are the kind of guys we are talking about, okay? there's a special quality to this particular crisis that generates a level of leadership, not just in virginia but beyond.
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by the way, this is not a client that the founders were all iconic heroes are worthy of divinity or thing like that. they are all human beings, each of them effective laws. i've tried to write about that. don't solve the slavery problem, don't solve the native american problem. those are major problems, but all that said, this is the greatest generation of political leadership in an american history. and the revolution is about to be cast. one of the other things that i discovered that this is president scholarly literature in some ways but not every way. is that this was an unnecessary war. there was a diplomatic solution to the crisis that was visible and known by prominent figures on both sides. on the british side, both william pitt and edmund burke in
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the house of commons advocated the solution, and andy continental congress, -- in the condo congress, a resolution -- resolution called -- what do you call a? a resolution appealing to the king on this principle. you let us tax ourselves and our legislatures and legislative ourselves at our respective colonial legislatures and we remain in the empire, recognizing the authority of the king and recognizing our membership in the british empire economically. we are both beneficiaries of that. as i say, both sides, their people on both sides arguing for this. up through the middle of the spring of 1776. this is the answer that the british would later regret they
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don't accept, or act on. this will be the biggest blunder in the history of british statecraft. why don't they want to do a? why don't they see that this is the way? three reasons. first of all, william blackstone, the great jurist, has ruled in 1765, or asserted, that there must be a single source of sovereignty in the empire. and in any government. there cannot be many guts. there must be one god and the source of sovereignty and the british empire and the british government is parliament, the king and parliament. and the american solution is unacceptable because it creates multiple versions of sovereignty. each calling will have its own
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sovereign government. even though they claim to work within the canopy of the british king. we can't have that. not sent, since aristotle everybody knows you have to have a final source of sovereignty. by the way, the whole american constitution is based on sensing with that idea. james madison is the major architect. a second reason is an early 18th century version of what will come to call the domino theory. if we grant the americans this degree of latitude politically, what happens in ireland? what happens in scotland? what happens in india? we can't send that signal. it's a sign of weakness.
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assigned where not really an empire. again, if they had acted on this they would've discovered the british commonwealth 100 years early. but they're not ready to act on it. and there's a third reason they are not ready to act. there's no reason to make a diplomatic solution when we have the militarily dominant force. we could squash this thing. the colonies have never cooperated in any military venture into political venture before, and the british army and british navy, when combined, is the dominant military force on the planet. prussian army is better. the french army is good, but put canadian, british dominant. ask yourself this question. how many wars did great britain
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lose between 1750-1950? to. -- 2. everybody loses in afghanistan. [laughter] graveyard for empires. okay. and in order to implement the decision, george iii himself, it's really important you do that, george iii himself, it does come for parliament. it doesn't come from his ministers but it comes from george iii himself who says we will prepare an invasion force larger than any of the invasion force to cross the atlantic, 42000 soldiers and sailors, over 400 ships, the largest amphibious force ever to cross the atlantic. the only time it succeeded was in world war i and world war ii. we are going to squash this
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rebellion in the cradle. and we're going to attack new york, occupy new york as our major headquarters, and spread from there. but a deadly, devastating knockout blow at the very beginning. what's the situation politically in the american colonies? there's a really good book about the year 1775 that talks about the fact, came out recently that there was a political consensus that had already formed by the time you got delayed 75. that's true i would say in new england because in new england has been occupied but it's not true down as you get into new york, pennsylvania, new jersey and virginia. those colonies are divided.
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now, we know there's about 20% of the colonial population, actually 19% that his loyalists. but in new england they have already been driven out. you don't want to be a loyalist and be living in new england. they will tear your house down and kill you. that doesn't mean, however, that the other 80% are all week patriots. -- whig patriots. this very some colonies call me, region to region. it's like going on cnn during an election and watched the red states, blue states and purple states. and within those states different counties. my own best judgment is that of the 80%, about 60% were pretty committed to the cause, and they
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called it the cause. but there's another 40% of the 80% that are really and decided or will go where ever the nearest army happens to be. give you an example. in valley forge, the continental army starred amidst the most productive farming area in the american colonies because the farmers sold their code is to the british army in philadelphia because they get more money for them. some are quakers, too, so they have that exclusion. at any rate, up until the middle of the spring, the moderates dominate the continental congress and the public opinion in the country at large is
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divided. the moderate position is most effectively defended by john dickinson, a radical position, independence by john adams. that's one thing that 1776, the play, clearly gets right. what changes the chemistry of the political situation is the realization that we are about to be invaded. people talk about the impact of tom paine's pamphlet, common sense, which comes out formally in late january and it's very, very influential, no question. but one of the reasons it's influential, severing the relationship between the colonies and the king, not just parliament but the king, is because it's published and read in a specific context. and that context is the son of the guns are sending the largest
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amphibious force with 15,000 prussian troops who are committed to taking no prisoners. they're sending them to get us. how do i know this? why am i confident that what i just said is historically supported by the evidence? in may, may 15 of 1776, the congress sent a resolution. it's written by john adams, requesting each of the colonies to redo their own charters as state charters are adams says, for obvious reasons, this ss de facto declaration of independence but if your estate is going to rewrite your charter, it's because you're decided to go to independence. they sent these to every governor. the governor sent to the legislature a legislature sent to all the counties and towns in each of the colonies.
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the reason obscure source added by got an 1840s has preserved all the responses. for example, there are 42 towns in massachusetts that respond. they all say the same thing. we cannot imagine having this conclusion only six months ago. when we still believed in our king and our membership and the british empire. iv has betrayed us. he is no longer our friend. in effect he has declared his independence of us. and, therefore, we have no choice. and then they used this phrase, this is where jefferson gets it. we pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor. it must come from some british poem that i don't know, i have tried to find a but that's where
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jefferson gets the phrase. it's almost unanimous, is one that in massachusetts the cake that says i'm not sure but the british days going to bombard us as soon as we say it. [laughter] anyway, the real reason why there is a political consensus for independence by the early summer of 76 is that they are being invaded. and so in effect the british decision to squash the rebellion generates the political will to cement the rebellion. does this begin to sound familiar? the attack is going to be in new york. now, if you look at a map, new york is an archipelago. it's three islands. staten island, long island, and manhattan. whoever controls the seed control for the battle. and there is no question about
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who controls the see. in retrospect, even at the time, new york is indefensible. so why do we side -- so why do we decide to defend it? while this is where the store, the military side of the store and the local side keep interacting. the british fleet lands on jul july 2, the entering seconds of the british fleet, july 2. that's the day the colonists vote on independence. the resolution from virginia, that these colonies are and have every right to the independent states. okay, the continental congress says look, how would it look if we just be clear independence? and then the army retreats to the main, either connecticut or new jersey?
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another question that might have been asked is how would it look at the army doesn't retreat and is annihilated? [laughter] there's a second reason why they defend it. but washington is a blade and civilian control your dog is wants him to defend new york, he's going to defend new york. there's another reason. washington is in on a driven man, as my earlier example testifies. almost medieval chivalry. and washington believes that the enemy, in this case general howe presents himself on the field, he is on the bound to meet him in the same way that he is honor bound to answer a summons to dual. this is stupid las. [laughter] he needs to get over this. he will eventually get over this, but it's going to come at
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an enormous cost on long island and manhattan. the average experience of a soldier in the continental army is five and a half months. the average experience of a soldier in the british army is seven and a half years. within the officer class it's even more dramatic. i mean, henry knox, the head of artillery, as a general was a bookseller in cambridge. so both in terms of the terrain and in terms of the power of the professional, power of the two armies, this is going to be a debacle. why did they think they had a chance? all the messages from headquarters at this time are part of this republican virtuous rhetoric. soldiers who believe in their cause and fight for their own
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values and their own country can defeat mercenaries in any field of battle. if you believe, you are a better soldier. at some level this sounds really great, except it doesn't work. and in the battle of long island, the continental army is routed, easily. they suffer over 1500 casualti casualties, and they are trapped on long island. this could be the end of the war. what would happen if the continental army was destroyed and washington and his staff were all killed? but they get off in a miraculo miraculous, everything has to work perfectly. it's a perfect storm of the benevolent source.
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the nor'easter is coming. the current has to fall a certain way. the falcons to commit just at the right time and to get across on the night of august 30 safe, so like an even more dramatic version of dunkirk. it's in sum was the most important political campaign of the war because if it didn't happen i'm not sure the war would even continue. we can't know that. i'll mention that in the second. but at the end of this defeat in long island, richard howe, the admiral, as for meeting with the american representatives from the congress, all kinds of back and forth whether they can diplomatically do that, blah, blah, blah. but eventually they send three people, been confronted, john adams and edward rutledge to meet with howe, richard house, at staten island on
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september 11, after the battle. and howe says, look, we just demonstrated to you that you cannot win. it is a hopeless cause. step back from independence. listen to the terms the team will offer you. they will be generous. i can tell you he's going to let you govern yourselves as you want to, although i can't guarantee it. and we'll probably have to hang most of the leaders. [laughter] he doesn't say that but that's what they mean. and both adams and franklin say something really interesting. adams says, it makes no difference what happens here. if you destroy the continental army, we will raise another army.
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demographically there are over 500,000 americans between the ages of 15-50. it's the same thing ho chi minh says to us. so go ahead, but it doesn't make any difference. ..
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this will be seen like the crusade and you will be ignominious arrogancy. side ties you to take your ships and go back now and say this much is your reputation as he possibly can. well, it is really an interesting question. and it is an unanswerable question. what would happen if the british had destroyed the cotton nlrb and manhattan? they had several chances to do so. and the house, as i suggested, really didn't want to destroyed the continental army. they wanted as william howe said, rough it up, proportionately demonstrate they couldn't possibly win. they didn't want this war to be calm the kind of war against the
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irish and scottish that was the genocidal war. they wanted it to end and away they cannot cannot come back together. they value the role as peacemaker's more than generals or admirals. i think that is a question that, as i said, unanswerable. but i have some obligation having spent four or five years thinking about what to say. they could replace the army easier than they could replace washington. i think what would've happened if each state has reverted to its own state militia as the source of authority and would become a guerrilla war. the british would still lost. it would have been a different kind -- the course would've been longer.
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there is a possibility, i would say, a 20% possibility that the destruction of the continental army would have destroyed the will of the rebellion because that middle group. that is what i can't know. i don't think it would have been. if i was a betting man i would put my odds on american victory in the end. one of the things that happen as a result of this experience was that washington began to understand a strategic that became absolutely central to his success. this is not the way to fight the war. the american army was never going to be competitive with the british army in a man for man situation. let's fight a war of posts. that's what they call it. it's not quite a guerrilla war because of the conventional army. it is a war in which you don't
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fight them as his superior numbers or superior terrain. you adopt a defensive strategy. and this will work for you for a reason that is really important. we don't have to win. they have to win. the song is we don't lose, we would. and that is what happens. we never really win the war. they just decide to give up. the end of the war is over 30,000 british troops still in north america. but they just decide to leave. washington learns this lesson in the summer of 1776. there is a thought process that leads to learning the lesson that begins at that time. it is hard for him to accept
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this. eventually he does. if you think about it, many of the great generals in world history are losers. hannibal, napoleon, robert e. lee, rommel. washington was not a good general. he lost more battles than he won, but he was the winner. because of his resilience in the end i.t. out at the strategic level. i think my time is kind of a. what i will end with one somewhat controversial question question -- statement. when the war in iraq was ratcheting up, i got a call from the woman that does offense at "the l.a. times."
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she said, i want you to write an op-ed on what washington would do about iraq. what he would do about iraq. so i said stephanie, washington wouldn't know where iraq was. he wouldn't know about weapons of mass destruction, jihads, whatever. he said that's right. now write the piece. so i wrote this piece in which the main point was washington would have sent near the british and i don't understand that. now if you take a poll amongst american citizens as to whether the united states is an empire commit the overwhelming majority of americans says no. if you take a poll of the rest of the world, everybody says
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yes. and we have become an imperial power since world war ii and have inhabited the hegemonic power from great britain since 1945, 46. we've made specific decisions in specific contexts. the cold war, more recently erratic come afghanistan. we are facing serious and egypt. i want to step back from the specifics of this particular context and save the reason we are an empire in denial is because we know that the core values of our republic are incompatible with imperialism. a republic must depend upon the power of her ideas to succeed voluntarily. an empire depends on the power of its arms to succeed. i'm not an isolationist.
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i support the korean war, gulf war and bosnia and more. i want to be pigeonholed. i want to encourage a national conversation about the conflict between origins in who we are now. we can say george washington is part of another hero. thomas jefferson is in a lost world. we're in a different place, but if we believe in original intentions in the core values of our republic were established at that moment, we should have a seminar on this. it will be an interesting conversation in which liberals and conservatives alike might be out of come together. thank you for having me. [applause]
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>> don't embarrass me by not having any questions for having six. >> thank you. that was wonderful. i am a big fan of yours. growing up i was a big fan of thomas jefferson. i thought he was the greatest president that there was. i loved peas growing up and he groupies in monticello. i like wine. he went broke drinking wine. i just loved him. i thought he was fantastic. and then i read your book. [laughter] fantastic book. it changed my mind on jefferson. and so i've got two questions. one of my questions is another research, have you ever changed your mind on any of the people you've written about? and reading your book on items. he's a yankee, so i tend to agree with him more. so that's one of my questions is to you every change your mind
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about the people you are writing about? number two, i know it is difficult to put people in the past in the modern times, but when i read your books, i try to figure out where politically jefferson and add-ons and jefferson and washington and hamilton, where they would be politically on the spectrum. i get the feeling that jefferson would be a key party. hated the government -- >> is a libertarian. >> could you briefly go down and stay where you think -- [inaudible] politically right now. >> "the l.a. times" reporter i don't entry mentions. try to bring these guys into the present is like trying to plant and cut flowers and they will grow. now it's like you have to make a
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translation, almost like a translation from one language into another language. that is a better analogy. i'll stick with the second question first. i think jefferson is the ultimate idealist. he is wilsonian in terms of the 20th century terms, making the world safe for democracy. he is a believer in small government and in some sense, with the industrial revolution in the end of the mccrary of society in the beginning of an urban society but the big demography, jefferson values become irrelevant. and he would say that. when we stopped being an agrarian society, nothing i believed continues to apply. of course it is because he's one of the most resonant icons in his monument on the title base
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and one of the most visited. i think jefferson would've gone with the confederacy in 1861. i think jefferson would have opposed the civil rights act of 1965. because he believed blacks were biologically inferior, not just because of nurture. adams is the realist. george kennan, american state department guys like atoms. atoms is also a contrarian who could never possibly be elected to any government in the 21st century. [laughter] and would be thrilled to be able to tell you that, would be proof of his first you. now what was the first question?
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do i change them i? i never change my mind. i do. nuances. i begin with certain convictions that probably don't change it to route. my first impression of washington was that he was really boring and flat. i didn't completely change my mind. he is the single most oppressive of the founders. he is the founding asked father of them all. [laughter] and they all agree on that. franklin who was the wisest, adams was the best bread, madison was the most politically agile. hamilton was probably the brightest. he got the highest grades on the
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lsat. but they all agreed washington was the greatest. it was judgment that they recognized and respected. again, i don't want to reiterate. this is not to sanctify these guys. one of i think the conspicuous qualities of most of the scholarly and popular literature of the founders of the last 10 to 15 years. i like it because i'm making money, is that they are all flawed. you don't have to hagiographic kind of depiction. much of the oppression is moving off in a fundamentally different direction. the political history of the 18 century is being done by people like ron turner now, what is his
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name, maccallum, stacy schiff, walter isakson. none of those people are professional historians. i am a professional historian. i have a phd from yale university. most of the people of the profession are up in the direction of social history, race question or, women, native americans, african-americans. they say alice studies did white males. i will say, that's right. thank you for the question. yes, sir. >> it's been my impression. and maybe wrong but the bulk of the patriots -- >> the new england patriots? they were in between, but the
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ones we read about in here about -- [inaudible] >> i was wondering about what she cares to talk about the interplay between this and that the dumbbell, so to speak? >> the first six presidents of the united states come from massachusetts and virginia. so those are the big states. virginia is the biggest state i fire. but within the continental congress, pennsylvania is really big. it is a big stake in it is a moderate state, meaning they are -- the source of the moderate movement arbor that to declare revolution. new york is also a modern state said that the southern metal stayed play a role, but they don't assume leadership for the revolution. they in effect or resistance until the theory and. a lot of guys who
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pennsylvania -- everybody thinks there is the small meant and this is the thing in 1776-foot on july 4 they go in time the document. never happened. never happened. they never signed the document all at once. most of them find it on august 2nd. there will vote on independence, which adams always that would be the anniversary of independence was july 2nd. but there are some guy signing and not over from philadelphia -- pennsylvania company do a. he's one of the last ones to sign and he signs at the very top. [laughter] like he was there first, but it really wasn't true. the importance of massachusetts and virginia history. leadership comes from those two states. but it doesn't accurately reflect the importance of the middle colonies in shaping
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political opinions in this crucial period. yes, sir. >> i want to ask about a dead white male that you have not written about it somewhat like me. maybe not exactly a founding father, but someone whose career spent a number of these importance to the making of this nation is every bit as important as most of them. >> i can't wait to hear his essays. >> evening earlier in his virginians that arose in this wonderful class of people. we are talking about marshall. he read about him. >> you don't have to persuade me on this commissary. i would love to write a really great biography of john marshall. the problem is he destroyed all his correspondence with his wife. you don't have the same level of information. you have all this legalistic
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information about this case is in the papers published, which is home to the marshall school of law. this is a guy who was a real stud. this is a guy who like at valley forge was known -- he was off the athletic competitions. he was the equivalent of a special forces team throughout a war. he has six or seven platoon's shot from under him. and then goes on to become a major figure in virginia politics and secretary of state for a brief time. the greatest chief justice and american judicial history. starting from 1800 to 1835, 36. i used to tell a story, and marshall died he was visiting
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his daughter in new york and they carried the body down to someone virginia. when a pastor in philadelphia they ring the liberty bell and it cracked. it's a great story. it turns out not to be true. but everything about him that is written now tends to be from a purely judicial point of view. although they're a couple of good biographies. he's a little john -- alice criteria, as it does makes any real difference, as you have to been a prominent leader in the time of the war for independence and at the time of the constitution and the 1790s that implementation of the constitution, that there's really two soundings. you had to be president -- he's a big player in the second one, but he's just a soldier in the first one. he has to count. but he is a great man.
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thank you. yes, ma'am. >> do you see any parallels between the revolution and the arab spring? do i see any parallels between the revolution in the arab spring? i see more differences than parallels. i think that egypt has been governed by autocratic rulings for most of its 20th century history. there's no tradition of democratic politics on which to build. they have to discover it and make it in the midst of the. strife and division between different ethnic groups, within the muslim world and within the muslim and secular world. those divisions have been camped out or controlled by autocratic
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power. you remove the autocratic power that can be beaten to the surface. just as they did in bosnia and from yugoslavia. the american colleagues have already developed habits of what we've come to call democracy. they knew how to govern themselves. they had their own legislatures, peron elected officials. for 100 years adams writes about this in something called dissertation that america has become different than england and europe in terms of politics. for very basic reasons. there's not nearly the shock value. the shock experience in the united states amend that to this revolutionary experience because it's not really revolutionary. it's evolution. the secret of the american revolution is it less than a revolution. it was more of an evolution. the egyptians are going to have
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a difficult time discovering what came naturally to us. this is not a comment on muslimism. although, it is part of the package. they have no history of being democratic politics. >> thank you for coming. thank you for being a professional historian. california just passed legislation saying that all segments of american history now has to give portions to. >> that's another thing they would not write. >> my children who attended woodward academy, their revolution was women, african-americans, native americans and she's to be very segmental now. you have an overview and i see them coming in and coming out
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with levels of education and knowledge. pictures become more and more revolutionary. how is the american revolution being taught today and how legislatures are involved in the teaching of history and what that means for us in the future. >> i don't like the involvement of state legislature deciding on what kind of textbooks and that kind of thing. i think that the current situation is close to disastrous in terms of the historical illiteracy of this generation and the rising generation. and all the surveys and polls tell you something that is really awful. you know, they don't know what century the civil war have been.
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all kinds of specific horrible things. i think the emphasis on testing has handicapped could teachers, especially the middle-school and secondary school level by forcing them into certain kind of pedagogy's they really don't look very well. i think that the social scientific haitian of metal and secondary school education has made history not really history, but a blend of geography, sociology, economics, a real intellectual stew, which is really nothing at all. on the points you made, i understand your concern. in effect, the native american experience is being given a new emphasis. and this is true at the college
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and graduate school level, too. if you want to go on in the early american. come it would be good idea to do native americans to because you're going to get a job. this is a compensation for past years of the click. is it a bit extreme? depends on where you stand. i am here to simply argue that in effect the late 18th century was shaped by a group of dead white males who were not leaked. and you are not supposed to say that, but i do believe that's the case. nobody shot me in so i say let a thousand flowers bloom. the situation at the secondary school level with regard to the teaching of history is to put it mildly, pretty desperate. >> thank you for your comment,
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sir. given that the orbits of the continental land and 1776 was in oakland, manhattan, driving down new jersey, why did the continental congress continue to have confidence in washing and quiet there is almost rebellion among his close staff. >> you're right about that. >> if you want to study washington's life and career, this is. he is said at his very worst, both as a commander and psychologically. he is clinically depressed throughout the late summer and fall because he sees the defeat of the army is defeated themselves come in the army's projection of his own care. there are a couple people on his staff that are talking to people in the continental congress and saying he's not up up to the job and that he has made some strategic wonders that could have cost us the whole thing.
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nathaniel greene is not one of them. but there is talk, rumors back here. they don't amount to much and 76. they come to some sort of christian of the following year. or something called the conway cabal when he is holed up in valley forge. and again, it fails. adams is behind him and adams is ahead of the work of ordinance. whenever some kind of challenge comes, washington says if anybody wants to do this job -- [laughter] you can have it. because he thinks he's not been given sufficient support by the congress and he is right about that. i think that you can hear rumblings. while the british change commanders three times, the americans never change. the stability of leadership in
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the cut in the army makes the difference. washington is the guy that takes mistakes, but learns from mom. and that makes a big difference. thank you offer coming tonight. [applause]
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the internet capabilities of other countries are faster and cheaper than in the u.s., which could threaten america's economic future. this program is about an hour. ..